Eight aquifers underlying Gloucester and Salem Counties in the southwestern Coastal Plain of New Jersey provide nearly all the drinking water for the 295,000 people who live in the area. Ground-water withdrawals in the two-county area and adjoining counties have affected water levels in several of these aquifers. Ground-water withdrawals in the two-county area also have affected the quality of water, increasing the chloride concentration in several of the aquifers as a result of saltwater intrusion. This report contains hydrologic data from the two-county area, including geometry and extent of hydrogeologic units, thickness and altitude of each aquifer, withdrawals from and water levels in major aquifers, and chloride concentrations in water from each aquifer.
Reported ground-water withdrawals in Gloucester and Salem Counties during 1975-95 averaged 7,800 Mgal/yr (million gallons per year) for public supply, 4,900 Mgal/yr for industrial use, 700 Mgal/yr for irrigation, 500 Mgal/yr for power plants, 50 Mgal/yr for commercial use, and about 40 Mgal/yr for mining. Withdrawals for domestic self-supply in 1994 are estimated to be about 2,600 Mgal/yr, but only about 20 percent (520 Mgal/yr) is thought to be consumptive use; the remainder is returned to the aquifer through septic systems. The most heavily used aquifer in Salem and Gloucester Counties is the Upper Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer, followed by, in decreasing order of use, the Middle Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer, the Lower Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer, the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system, and the Wenonah-Mount Laurel aquifer. Reported withdrawals from these aquifers during 1975-95 averaged 5,000, 3,700, 3,200, and 330 Mgal/yr, respectively.
Withdrawals from the Wenonah-Mount Laurel aquifer in Gloucester County increased during 1993-96 because of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection restrictions on new withdrawals from the deeper Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer system. Because of the increased rate of withdrawal, water-level altitudes in the Wenonah-Mount Laurel aquifer in some parts of the two counties in 1996 were from 5 to 40 ft lower than water levels measured in 1993 and previous years, reaching a low of almost 40 ft below sea level in Washington Township, Gloucester County. Ground water in the Upper, Middle, and Lower Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifers in the study area is withdrawn from the outcrop areas near the Delaware River downdip to the Glassboro vicinity. Water-level altitudes in 1993 in the three aquifers were near sea level in the outcrop areas near the Delaware River, but were as low as 80 ft below sea level in parts of Gloucester County that were affected by withdrawals in Camden County and were 20 to 60 ft below sea level near major withdrawal centers in the study area.
Chloride concentrations in water samples from selected wells in seven aquifers throughout Gloucester and Salem Counties have been monitored since 1949. These aquifers include the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system, the Vincentown and Wenonah-Mount Laurel aquifers, the Englishtown aquifer system, and the Upper, Middle, and Lower Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifers. The results of chloride analyses of 4,221 samples from 496 wells indicate the extent and magnitude of saltwater intrusion in these aquifers, six of which have been affected to varying degrees by saltwater intrusion. The confined Piney Point aquifer and the unconfined Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system show no measurable effects of saltwater intrusion in the study area. Chloride concentrations in water from selected public-supply wells screened in the Upper, Middle, and Lower Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifers have increased over time in communities along the Delaware River and further inland in both Gloucester and Salem Counties. Elevated chloride concentrations in the Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer system are widespread in this area but rarely exceed the drinking-water standard of 250 milligrams per liter.